A Southern California Catholic priest was sentenced to federal prison Monday for sexually assaulting a female passenger aboard a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
Father Marcelo De Jesumaria, 46, formerly of Lake Arrowhead, was sentenced in federal court to six months in prison and six months of home detention for the crime of "abusive sexual contact" on the August 2014 flight. He was convicted in May of this year.
In February 2014, the NBC4 I-Team revealed that there had been a spike in the number of sexual assaults aboard airplanes in the last year. Most of the crimes took place on overnight flights while passengers were asleep.
In this recent case, the US Attorney’s Office said Father De Jesumaria touched a woman’s breast, inner thigh, and groin on the red-eye flight to LA.
US District Court Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell said the priest’s crime had "devastatingly negative impacts" on the victim.
During the priest’s trial last May, evidence showed that the priest asked a flight attendant if he could "sit next to his wife" and then moved to the last row of the plane next to a sleeping woman.
According to the US Attorney, the victim was awakened when she felt De Jesumaria’s hand on top of her left leg near her groin. The victim used a call button to summon a flight attendant.
"This type of behavior is completely unacceptable in any setting, especially in the close confines of an airplane," US Attorney’s Spokesman Thom Mrozek told NBC4. "Reporting the crime will allow us to take action and punish the offender."
De Jesumaria’s attorney, Steven Cron, was unavailable for comment.